Being a parent is hard. Being a special needs parent is really hard. I find that too many of us think that being a better parent has to do with providing more therapy for our kids, a better school, better doctors or some other tangible thing. I don’t think that is how our kids would define ‘good parenting’, do you?
Here’s my advice on ways you can be a better parent today. And by ‘better’ I mean your kids will like you more. : )
1. Take care of yourself. This is about as basic as it gets – if you are not taking care of your own needs, then you are over-tired, stressed and well, making those around you miserable. Imagine how much easier everything would be if you were well-rested, relaxed and parenting intentionally instead of reactively? Start by taking a shower. Build from there.
2. Listen more. Our kids have lots to say, and we all end up cutting them off because we are much more concerned about our own agenda and what needs to be happening. Take the time to truly listen to your child’s concerns. He’s trying to tell you something.
3. Plan to Connect. Instead of just planning therapy sessions, or play dates, or errand running, plan a time to just be. Time to spend with you and your child (if you have more than one, do this for each of them) and learn about each other. If you don’t, you’ll turn around and have a teenager on your hands in no time.
4. Play. This is one that is often forgotten. Play with your kids! This does not mean supervise them playing, it means that you have to actually, really, truly, play WITH your child. Let them lead, sit on the floor, make funny voices, and interact in the games that mean the most to your child.
5. Stop Parenting the Label. Your child is more than just one label or another. He is a child. A human being. Start looking at him like that. Wherever he is in his development, regardless of what he can or can’t do, should or should not be doing, parent the whole child. As he is now. Parent that kid. It is much easier than parenting his symptoms. …continue reading